Dr. Park: Researcher, teacher and visionary set up subspecialty clinics
AlysonSulaski Wyckoff, Associate Editor
Did you know?
In 1927, when Edwards “Ned” A. Park, M.D., FAAP (1877-1969), took over as chief of
the Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children (Johns Hopkins’ pediatric hospital), he
made a bold move: He set up separate clinics for subspecialty areas that offered care
for patients as well as educational and research opportunities.
Other medical centers eventually followed this approach, and the model still is relevant
in modern academic pediatric departments.
To head the clinics, Dr. Park appointed physicians who became prominent in their fields,
such as Clifton B. Leech, M.D., and, later, Helen B. Taussig, M.D. (pediatric cardiology);
Lawson Wilkins, M.D. (pediatric endocrinology); and Leo Kanner, M.D. (child psychiatry).
The facility had otolaryngologists, orthopedists, dermatologists and social workers.
There also was a tuberculosis clinic.
At first, many of the doctors frowned on the idea of separate clinics, which they
thought would weaken “the dispensary.” But in hindsight, Dr. Park was credited for
his vision. In a tribute to Dr. Park after his death, Dr. Taussig called the clinics
“an innovation which in the next twenty years became an essential part of every pediatric
Dr. Park also was ahead of his time in recognizing the impact of psychosocial issues
on children and insisted it was essential for pediatricians to learn about the field.
“He (the pediatrician) is the first trained observer to enter the child’s life, the
first to detect mistakes in upbringing and education and to perceive unhealthy attitudes
or habits,” he said. “The paediatrician is the pilot of the formative years …”
Dr. Park completed medical school at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia
University, an internship at Roosevelt Hospital and residency at New York Foundling
After practicing for several years, he took a position at Columbia to teach and pursue
research. He then spent many months in 1912 working in a pathology lab in Germany
studying bone growth and rickets. Later that year, he went to Hopkins to head the
dispensary and continue investigating rickets. The work of Dr. Park and collaborators
contributed to knowledge of the histopathology of bone and the role of vitamin D in
the treatment and prevention of the disease.
In 1921, Dr. Park moved to Yale University, where he established a full-time pediatric
department but returned to Hopkins about six years later. For two decades, he served
as head of pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief at Harriet Lane.
Tina L. Cheng, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, current head of pediatrics at Hopkins and pediatrician-in-chief
of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, reflected on Dr. Park’s legacy.
“Edwards A. Park has a special place in our history,” Dr. Chang wrote in an email.
“He contributed to discoveries on the pathophysiology of disease affecting children
like rickets, lead poisoning and cardiac disease. These discoveries led to treatments,
and he developed pediatric specialty clinics to address the morbidities of the time.
“With the availability of treatments, he was concerned about access to quality care
for children and worked to translate research to reach children in the community through
the Harriet Lane Home,” she noted.
Dr. Park’s personal papers can be found in the Hopkins’ medical archives
His AAP involvements included serving on the editorial board of the Journal of Pediatrics (forerunner to Pediatrics). He edited “The Social Aspects of Medicine” column, retitled “The Pediatrician and
the Public.” The columns riled some AAP leaders and members, prompting Dr. Park to
resignin 1949. He expressed disappointment but insisted the columns stimulated needed
Several pediatric luminaries mentioned Dr. Park’s influence in their AAP oral histories
(http://bit.ly/2RLJOBE). Mary Ellen Avery, M.D., FAAP, said knowing him “was just one of the great opportunities
of my life.” Joseph Dancis, M.D., FAAP, called Dr. Park “one of the real shining lights
Today, the Harriet Lane Home is closed, but the Harriet Lane Clinic can be found within
the David M. Rubenstein Child Health Building. Fittingly, the building houses more
than 18 nonsurgical pediatric specialty clinics.